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Persimmon mauled by MPs over ‘egregious’ exec pay plan

Persimmon has faced a mauling from MPs today as the head of ..

Persimmon has faced a mauling from MPs today as the head of its remuneration committee said she didn't know how much the average worker was paid by the troubled housebuilder.

At a hearing of the business, energy and industrial strategy committee (BEIS), chair MP Rachel Reeves said the Persimmon case was a "a tale of corporate greed and incompetent pay management."

Chair of Persimmon's remuneration committee Marion Sears told MPs that the group had agree the controversial executive pay deal with no discretion or cap, and had failed to talk to shareholders early enough to resolve the dispute.

In April, 49 per cent of shareholders voted against the remuneration plan for chief executive Jeff Fairburn, who was set to receive a bonus package of over £100m.

Read more: Persimmon in close shave as almost half of shareholders reject pay report

After the backlash, Fairburn voluntarily handed back £25m in an attempt to calm the situation.

The news came as the company was put under pressure to pay employees the "real living wage" by accrediting with the Living Wage Foundation.

Read more: Persimmon is under pressure on paying the "real living wage" at today's AGM

When asked what the average pay at the company was, Sears said: "The average – I don't have that figure at my finger tips."

Reeves responded: "You're chair of the remuneration committee at Persimmon aren't you? And you dont know what average pay is, as chair of the remuneration committee?"

The Persimmon boss also seemed unsure over the sum Fairburn recieved. When asked how much he was paid last year, she initially said "£675,000", before being prompted to admit it was more like "£45m".

Sears also said Persimmon was a living wage employer, before clarifying that it was not accredited with the Living Wage Foundation.

The BEIS chair blasted the pay plan as "egregious" as she told Sears: "If Persimmon can pay their chief executive £45m, they must ensure they pay all their staff the living wage."

In a statement, Reeves said Sears' ignorance over average pay at the company was a "disgrace."

"Persimmon paid out huge bonuses to the men at the top of the firm and yet this morning we have heard that Persimmon are unable to tell us how much average workers at the company are paid," she said.

"As a committee, we shall continue to take a close eye to the issue of corporate pay and examine what impact government action, such as pay-ratio reporting, and new regulatory guidance is likely to have on delivering fair pay."

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